Provenance: Tillou Gallery, Litchfield, Connecticut, purchased 1969 (accompanied by copy of original receipt)
Private collection Wilson, North Carolina.
Biography: Philip Mercier was born in Berlin in 1689, the son of Pierre Mercier and of Marie Biendovienne. According to George Vertue, he studied under Antoine Pesne in Berlin, subsequently going on a tour of Italy and France. In 1716 he came to England, recommended by the court at Hanover, and settled on Saint Martin’s Street, in the French quarter of London. There, in 1719, he married Margaret Plante, and they had two sons. After Margaret’s death he married, in 1735, Dorothy Clapham, with whom he had a daughter. In the mid-1720s he introduced the conversation piece into England; the genre was taken up by Hogarth and rapidly became popular. He was a member of the Saint Luke’s Club of Virtuosi, and was steward in 1728; he seems also to have been active as an art dealer.
In 1729 Mercier was appointed Principal Painter to Frederick, Prince of Wales, subsequently being appointed Gentleman Page of the Bedchamber (1729) and Library Keeper (1730). Frederick, a cultivated connoisseur, patronized a number of artists. After a short period in Northamptonshire he took lodgings on the piazza at Covent Garden from 1737 to 1739.
After a year in Portugal 1739 he settled in York, where he was soon patronized by the leading Yorkshire families and remained in respectable practice as a portraitist until 1751, visiting Ireland in 1747 and Scotland in 1750. After a year in Portugal in 1752 he resettled in London. He died in London on 18 July, 1760.